30 Nov

There once was a bishop who lived in a hub…

The English cathedrals are doing very nicely, thank you. The First World War Centenary Repair Fund, administered by the government, has so far contributed £40million – and a further £5.5million this week alone. And this is not their only source of revenue. Businesses are often generous in their support: for example, a few years ago Goldman Sachs gave £40million to St Paul’s for the renewal of its stonework. And this as the canons were speaking in support of the Occupy movement and excoriating the City banks. There are 44 cathedrals and they charge admission – and it’s not cheap. St Paul’s will let you in for £18, generously reduced to £16 for children and pensioners. At Westminster the fee is £20 and at York £15. the cathedrals attract 11 million visitors each year, so you hardly require pencil and paper to work out how much the Deans and Chapters are raking in – well over £150million from pay-at-the-door alone.

Mind you, they need to bring in the money to pay themselves their stipends for, while the average Vicar receives £25,000pa, cathedral Canons are paid rather more and Deans get £34,000.

There is one more big difference between the financial condition of the parish churches and that of the cathedrals. The average parish church is required to pay tens of thousand of pounds annually to diocesan central funds through an ever-increasing tax variously known as the quota, the common fund or the parish share.

The cathedrals pay nothing.

Effectually, this means that each Vicar or parish priest must be a permanent fundraiser to provide his own stipend.

So we see there operates in the Church of England a sublime equality – though some places are more equal than others.

Cathedrals have often been described – chiefly by the Bishops and Deans who inhabit them – as “the jewels in the crown of the English Church.” A spokesman for the C. of E., responding to the latest tranche of cash from that WWI Centenary Repair Fund, was even more lavish in his praise. “Our cathedrals,” he effused “are valuable community hubs.”

So we are to understand that the hierarchy’s new vision for Christian churches in England is to see them as an aspect of social work by practitioners of the social gospel – which is only the social bit without the gospel – and another sign of the Church’s suicidal secularisation perpetrated by those who were ordained and appointed to teach us about the things that are sacred.

And lo is written, “My house has been called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a community hub.”

27 Sep

The Church of St Jargon & All Gobbledegook

The Church of St Jargon & All Gobbledegook – formerly known as the Church of England – is affectionately called “Jarg’s” or “Gobs” by its devotees. It is “a resource  where exciting things are happening.” Last year, for example, they appointed Mike Eastwood, Liverpool Diocesan Secretary, to the “exciting” two days a week job of Director of the nationwide Reform and Renewal movement, aka “The Welby Babes.”.Mike has held exciting posts before his current appointment. He was Director of the Directory of Social Change – and they don’t come more exciting than that in the social engineering and class warfare sector!

The official announcement of Mike’s appointment mentioned that he had previously worked for the not quite so exciting Resourcing the Future Task Group and that, “He brings knowledge of the Church to support the programme into the delivery phases.” His responsibility at R&R will be, “…to bring the current work streams together and co-ordinate the activities in a way necessary for delivery.”

When we read such invigorating sentences as these, we can see at once that the new name, The Church of St Jargon & All Gobbledegook was chosen with brilliant aptness. 

The announcement continues in the same exciting style: “Mike will retain his role in Liverpool, with some changes in day-to-day activities to ensure manageability of workload.”

The tired old C. of E. is in its death throes – thank God. The stuffy old diehards, Prayer Book lovers and the like are dying off too. The numbers attending church show relentless decline. We should see this as a blessing, as the dead wood makes way for the exciting new ethos of R&R with its stimulating rock music “worship groups,” its informal, pass-the-parcel style liturgy and its scintillating shoals of “management teams.” 

The chronic shortage of priests is “enabling” R&R “to explore exciting new possibilities for lay leadership.” 

The future is bright. The future is all Jargon & Gobbledegook (with charismatic choruses obbligato).

08 Jun

The Father of Lies

Has the Archbishop of Canterbury now descended so far into the realm of unreality that his utterances disqualify him from the holding of his high office? He does not speak out of Christian conviction but from a Panglossian mess of evasion and political-correctness.

Yesterday he declared Nigel Farage’s  warning that European women are increasingly in danger of being raped by migrants to be “absolutely unacceptable.”

But Mr Farage spoke the truth.

Where has the effete and absurd Mr Welby been living these last few years?

Did he not read about the wholesale rapes and assaults by migrants in Cologne at the New Year? Does this pusillanimous buffoon, cocooned against reality by his own fantasies and wishful thinking, not know that, owing to the influx of Muslim migrants, Sweden is now second only to South Africa in the number of rapes?

I hesitate before intruding into the Most Reverend idiot’s hermetically-sealed conscience to offer a few contradistinctions:

Sexual violence in Germany has skyrocketed since Angela Merkel allowed more than one million mostly male migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East into the country. The crimes are being downplayed by the authorities to avoid fuelling anti-immigration sentiments:

“The moment they [male migrants] see a young woman wearing a skirt or any type of loose clothing, they believe they have a free pass.” — Restaurant owner at a mall in Kiel.

“Every police officer knows he has to meet a particular political expectation. It is better to keep quiet [about migrant crime] because you cannot go wrong.” — Rainer Wendt, head of the German Police Union. “We, the police, are warning about a potential breakdown of public order this summer, when women who are lightly dressed are confronted by young male migrants.”

I could bore you with a score of such reports, including our own shameful refusal to acknowledge the rapes and other sexual assaults, similarly perpetrated over many years, on young girls in a dozen English towns and cities.

If it is the duty of every Christian to try to discern the truth and proclaim it, how much greater does this responsibility belong to a Prelate?

But this risibly inadequate man, this dissembler and false prophet, studiously refuses to notice what is staring the less distinguished among us in the face?

Outraged as we must be, we are yet reluctant to speak the words of Oliver Cromwell to Justin Welby:

“You have sat here too long for any good you have been doing lately… Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

02 Jun

The Incredible Shrinking Church

The Anglican boat is still heading for the demographic rapids.

Official figures just announced say that between 25% and 40% of full time stipendiary clergy are aged over 60. Only 3.4% of all clergy are from black or ethnic minorities. In his commentary, the Church of England Director of Ministry, Julian Hubbard, writes: “While the number of stipendiary ordinations showed a welcome increase between 2012 and 2015, this is not sufficient to redress the gathering effect of clergy retirements predicted over the next ten years.”

He added, “The statistics on the age and ethnicity of clergy show that we still have some way to go to ensure that the whole cohort fully reflects the demographics of the wider community.”

Mike Eastwood, Director of Renewal and Reform, the Church of England’s main response to falling church attendance, said: “These figures support what we have been saying about the need for renewal and reform in the Church of England. Renewal and Reform is about a message of hope, through changed lives and transformed communities, as people discover their vocation to love God and serve others. Renewal and Reform is not a top-down project to fix the church, but a narrative of local hope in God shared throughout the church. As part of Renewal and Reform, we are currently consulting on how we better release the gifts of all Christian leaders in church and wider society, whether ordained or not.”

As a priest with 46 years service, let me try to interpret the ecclesiastical spin for you.

In a word, Mr Hubbard has looked in the cupboard and found it to be bare.  These numbers mean that the Church of England is very shortly going to be desperately short of full time, decently educated and properly trained priests. I will come back to the decently educated and properly trained aspect in a minute.

First, we notice the Church’s politically-correct obsession with racial quotas. St Paul said, “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek,” but the talkative old tentmaker did not foresee the preoccupations of the modern C. of E. Why this obsession with colour and racial origins? In Mr Hubbard’s contorted language, why should “…the whole cohort fully reflect the demographics of the wider community”? Why should the racial origins of the ministers be precisely proportionate to those of the parishes they serve? Everyone walking about has a brain (we suppose), yet hardly any of us are brain surgeons. Millions take the tube every day, but few actually drive the trains. And the euphemistic phrase “positive discrimination” cannot disguise the fact that the obsession with racial quotas is itself an example of racism.

Mr Eastwood’s verbose exposition of the policies of Renewal and Reform are all blather and bluster – a species of what in RAF slang was always known as “flannel.”

His peroration about the “…better release of the gifts of all Christian leaders in Church and wider society” is a glossy way of saying that in future the cash-strapped Church will resort to appointing unpaid layfolk to do the work presently undertaken by the stipendiary priesthood.

This will, of course, involve a further dumbing down to follow that which has been the norm in the C. of E. over the last forty years. When I was training for the ministry, some ordinands took degrees and higher degrees in theology and philosophy. But the minimum educational standard was impressively high, consisting of the 13 papers of the General Ordination Examination (GOE) – affectionately referred to as God’s Own Exam. There were 3 papers on Old Testament and 3 on the New; two on doctrine, another two on history, one on liturgy, one on pastoral studies and a final one on Greek.

Since that time, there has been a relentless falling off in which all kinds of ad hoc training schemes have come and gone, with the result that most clergy under the age of 55 know very little theology. Most of them have never so much as opened The King James Bible and The Book of Common Prayer, let alone used those books which used to be the head and cornerstone of English Christianity. The worst of it is there now exists – under the shibboleth of “anti-elitism” – a perverse institutional pride in knowing nothing.

Under all the spin, smoke and mirrors, the truth is that congregations will continue their precipitous fall and increasingly be taught and ministered to by people who are hardly qualified for the task.

22 May

“Mind your manners, St Paul!”

Archbishop Justin Welby has told Christians firmly that we should not “proselytise” or talk about our faith to non-Christians until they invite us to do so.

It is a pity that St Paul didn’t have the benefit of the Archbishop’s guidance before he set out – without being asked – on his three missionary voyages in which he founded churches among the pagans in such as Philippi, Ephesus and Corinth. The presence of the finger-wagging, politically-correct Mr Welby on the quayside before St Paul boarded his ship would have saved the Apostle a great deal of trouble: the thirty-nine lashes he received (five times), an attempt to stone him and his shipwreck.

How ironic that Welby should choose the season of Pentecost to issue his injunction for, according to chapter two of The Acts of the Apostles, this was the day when the disciples of Jesus experienced the rushing mighty wind of the Holy Ghost and tongues of fire upon their heads and immediately rushed – all uninvited – out into the Jerusalem streets to preach to members of every race under the sun: Parthians, Medes, Elamites, dwellers in Mesopotamia, Cretes and Arabians and all the rest.

If only the wise, admonitory and well-mannered Mr Welby had been there to say, “Never mind the promptings of the Holy Ghost, St Peter! Mind your P’s and Q’s! Wait till you’re asked!”

And if we go back a little earlier to the life of Our Lord himself, we can imagine – if only Welby had been there to quieten Jesus’ enthusiasm – his command “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost” would never have been given. Or at the very least Jesus would surely have toned down his command to something more polite such as, “Go and ask those pagans if they’d like to join an Alpha course! Tell them there’s  red wine and pizza afterwards!”

Christian history would have turned out quite differently, if only Jesus had minded his manners.

But Welby’s verbal facility is not limited to the occasional sound-bite, such as “Don’t proselytise!” He is capable of quite extraordinary prolixity. How’s this for an example of what Humpty Dumpty called “Impenetrability”? In his Pentecost speech, he went on to say:

“I draw the line in terms of respect for the other; in starting by listening before you speak; in terms of love that is unconditional and not conditional to one iota, to one single element, on how the person responds to your own declaration of faith; and of not speaking about faith unless you are asked about faith.”

That is an utterance so syntactically obscure that Welby’s predecessor, the Great Obfuscator, Rowan Williams himself, would have been proud of it. 

02 May

No dumbing down in the C. of E.

    The Church of England has been accused of dumbing down after drawing up a new service in which worshippers use Post-it notes, clap like football fans and move their fingers like “twinkling stars.” This new pantomime – sorry, this creative invention of the Church’s Liturgical Commission – was performed in parishes for the first time at services on 1st May. So what is it meant to do? Answer: “to celebrate the role of godparents.”
    Acting true to character, the former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, has criticised this innovation as “reflecting the Church’s now familiar desire for being trendy.”

Surely it is long past time for so-called traditionalists and reactionary backwoodsmen such as Bishop Michael to cease their endless carping? Can’t you get it into your head, Michael, that this new service for godparents was produced by some of the finest minds in the Church of England?

He mocks the service, saying, “It’s like a game of bingo.”

This is a typically elitist remark and an insult to members of the Liturgical Commission who, as a matter of fact, enjoy nothing better than a game of bingo on a Saturday evening after watching Strictly Come Dancing.

The new service is redolent with intellectual and theological substance and it is yet another example of the erudite and scholarly productions we have come to expect from the Liturgical Commission. For instance, worshippers are urged to write their thoughts about godparents on notes to stick on a “memory wall” and to tie ribbons to a “prayer tree.”

This is in the same glorious tradition we noticed in the Commission’s worship suggestions for Lent – such as arranging a Christian line dance for the Lord or cutting out bits of yellow paper and pasting these on larger pieces of blue paper.

It is hard to imagine anything more spiritually significant than this.

At the opening of the service, the congregation is told to act like a football crowd and in response to the call “God is great!” – a nice ecumenical touch expressing Christian solidarity with our jihadist brothers and sisters – perform “a double clap with an arm raise” as they shout out “Let the people praise you!” 

In case the congregation has difficulty in appreciating the sacramental profundity of these gestures, the priest is instructed to get them to repeat the exercise “as often as feels right.”

Then everyone should “Shout ‘bingo’ or ‘housey housey’ really loudly!”

(Sorry, I misread that. They should, of course, shout “Hallelujah”)

Then they are all asked to touch their feet and put their hands over their ears in a prayer asking for God’s help “during life’s journey.”

They are then invited to draw a heart shape over the front of their bodies, and think of members of the community such as teachers or social workers.

Worshippers should then hold up their hands and move their fingers “like twinkling stars” to honour people that shine in their lives.

How dare Bishop Michael suggest there is anything dumbed down about all this!

28 Apr

Referendum Prayer

The Church of England (deceased) has produced a prayer for the discussions about the EU referendum. It is a classic example of the church’s debauched and gutless attitude to everything that moves in public life and I am afraid its atrocity has so irritated my friend Alexander Boot that it has led him into committing blasphemy. I will take this opportunity publicly to exonerate Alex. He has not blasphemed in his recent blog on the subject but eloquently hit this ecclesiastical hydra on all its soft heads.

As a sort of cauterisation, I offer a referendum Prayer of my own:

“O Lord our God, who by the operation of thy boundless grace and mercy, hast established this realm of England in a fair ground and hast blessed and guided its monarchs and people these many ages: we give thee humble and heartfelt thanks for all thy goodness. And we further extol and magnify thy Holy Name for that thou hast not made us in the image of those cheese-eating surrender monkeys across the Channel, neither hast thou fashioned us as the brutish Kraut, nor even as the slippery Dago and the shiftless Eyetie. We beseech thee, O Lord, that in thine unsearchable Providence, thou wouldst protect and defend us against the subtle malevolence of them that are called Eurocrats and do thine utmost to strike down those of our own nation, who indeed call themselves Englishmen, but whom thou knowest to be covetous men and dissemblers whose will is only to do thy people mischief. We pray thee also that thou wouldst in thy wisdom so deal with them that govern the Church of England according to their deserts: that thy people may see an end of them and (this wickedness in high places done away) continue, without their let and hindrance, to serve thee in freedom, liberty and truth. Amen.”  

23 Mar

Easter Syringe-Head

The Most Reverend Justin Welby has occupied the throne of Canterbury for three years, so this Easter is as good a time as any to examine the condition of the Church of England under his leadership.

Some years ago, the Church irritated many when, in an advertisement, it depicted Jesus as Che Guevara. It seemed shocking at the time, but it was a gesture of piety compared with the blasphemous atrocity produced this year. In the advertisement, a former drug addict takes the place of Jesus, wearing a crown of thorns made from syringes. The Church hopes this will attract new worshippers this Easter.

Rob Jones, 46, from Halifax, West Yorks, who spent years living rough punctuated by time in prison before turning his life around, plays the central role in a short film modelled on a traditional passion play.

He appears with, among others, a former white witch who converted to Christianity, in the video made as part of the Church’s “Just Pray” campaign.

It follows a previous advert, featuring the Lord’s Prayer which was banned from cinemas last year for being “too religious.”

The Church’s latest publicity stunt is based on the text of Psalm 22, in which the Psalmist utters his despair and asks, “My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me?” These words were repeated by Jesus from the cross.

All the main parts in the film are played by people who have recently found faith through an informal church in Halifax called “The Saturday Gathering”.

In the central scene, Mr Jones is grabbed by a crowd and has the mock crown, made from the plastic tubes and syringes used by drug addicts to inject themselves, forced on to his head.

It then cuts to a scene in a church, in full colour, accompanied by a message about resurrection.

To describe the whole performance as inappropriate is something of an understatement but, whatever else it is, it is inappropriate too – because inaccurate. It fails as an analogy. 

The central character Mr Jones is a reformed drug addict. Jesus, the original wearer of the crown of thorns, was never a drug addict. It is thus entirely misleading to make the comparison between an addict who claims to have been redeemed by his encounter with Jesus, and the Jesus who does the redeeming.

But you may well ask what has this obscene parody of the faith performed in  Halifax to do with the Archbishop residing in Canterbury? Much. Of course, the Archbishop is not to be expected to micromanage everything that takes place in the Church which he leads. But his role in the governance of the Church of England is like that of a minister of the crown. The departmental minister is not occupied in the minutiae of the day-to-day running of his department, but he is the person ultimately responsible for the integrity of his department. This is why, when a section of his department is found to be seriously at fault, the minister resigns.

There is a lesson here for the Archbishop of Canterbury

30 Jan

There’s nowt so queer as queer marriage

Here comes another deceit in the downward spiral into theological and moral chaos

A homosexual pressure group commissioned an opinion poll from You Gov – a respectable and honest outfit – to ask how many Anglicans now support homosexual marriage

Except they didn’t call it homosexual marriage: they called it equal marriage

The conclusion drawn and publicised is that now “a majority of those who would call themselves Church of England” approve of homosexual marriage

This then gets reported in the media to suggest overwhelmingly that this means people in the pews substantially agree with queer marriage

Of course this is not the case

Ask anyone in the street concerning his religion and he is likely to say  say C of E

The fact is that most of those in the pews regularly on Sundays abhor queer marriage

Never mind. It won’t be long. The Church of England has fallen into line with every secular social “reform” since the 1960s

I would give it another three or four years until – under the bizarre and antinomian leadership of the ludicrous Welby figure – the General Synod and the bishops come out in favour of queer marriage


This is the way the world ends – well, it’s the way the church ends anyhow.

09 Jan

It’s not just the Gays

Next week in Canterbury cathedral the worldwide Anglican Communion will split into two factions. Except this is not quite correct – for the fact is that the church has split already. Next week’s meeting, called by the Archbishop of Canterbury, will at last formalise the split.

The reason for the division is said to be the widely different teachings on sexuality among the churches, and particularly on the subject of homosexuality. This is true, but it is only part of the truth.

The fundamental cause of the split is much broader and deeper and involves not just the matter of sexual morality. It is ethical, certainly, but it is also theological, doctrinal and cultural. In truth, it is an unbridgeable division between traditionalists and modernisers or, to put it bluntly, between believing Christians and secularising liberals. I must apologise here for some terminological inexactness: “Liberal” in this context does not mean “broad-minded, live and let live”; it connotes a theological cultural hegemony which has adopted the secular mores of western societies and which therefore has rejected the historic Christian faith. This account of the matter is not merely my opinion: the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, used his final sermon to tell us, “The church has a lot of catching up to do with secular mores.”

And these secular mores are not the same thing as historic Christianity. In fact, they are its antipathy.

The fact is that the European and American churches have already caught up with secular mores. Many African and Asian churches reject modern secular mores. And that is the fundamental cause of the split which already exists de facto and which will be formalised at next week’s meeting when Archbishops from believing churches in Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, South Sudan, Rwanda and Congo are likely to walk out.

“There’s going to be a lot of drama,” said a senior C of E source. “It’s 90% likely that the six will walk out. If we get past Tuesday, we’ll be doing well.”

Of course, the mass media will focus all its attention on the widely differing views on homosexuality among the churches. A typical headline will announce:  CHURCH SPLITS OVER GAYS.

But to claim that the cause of division is disagreement on the ethics of homosexuality is as if we should say that the cause of the First World War was the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand. The assassination didn’t help, but the deep causes of that war were international tensions and disagreements which had been brewing for decades.

And that is the case with today’s division among Anglicans worldwide.

For decades the western churches have come more and more to believe less and less. When I say churches, I mean, of course, the elites – bishops, synods and the like with their self-important commissions and reports – who rule these churches. They have demythologised the gospels and they no longer believe in the credal doctrines concerning the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, Ascension and the Second Coming of Christ. They also reject the miracle stories in the Bible. The traditional Christians believe that these teachings mean what they say. The liberal elite reduces them to metaphors in which, for example, the bodily Resurrection of Jesus didn’t happen but means  a feeling of new life; the feeding of the five thousand didn’t happen either, but is an acted parable about sharing.

Really, in the Anglican Communion today, there are two creeds.

The believing Christians hold fast the historic creeds and the traditional understanding of the New Testament account of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We know what these creeds say, for they are written down and have been said daily by the faithful for centuries. So far as I know, the creed of the liberal elite has never been written down, but if it were to be, it would go something like this:

“I believe in God, but only in the metaphorical sense that the doctrines of the secular Enlightenment, Darwin and modern science will allow. I believe in Jesus Christ who was a very special person who went about preaching the gospel of social conscience. I believe in equality and diversity. I believe in climate change. Most important of all, I believe that those who do not believe these things have a lot of catching up to do with what we moderns with our secular mores believe.”

So there you have it: the story behind the headlines.